Alcohol - stimulant or depressant? Both? Discover the balance

So you reach for a glass of wine when you are feeling little down or a need a lift? When you keep it in moderation, there is science that boosts your mood at first instance. It is why moderate drinking can be effective for health. Check out our other blogs on these topics!


It is most common knowledge that alcohol affects your brain function but how? but you may wonder exactly how it works.


Some people think of alcohol as a stimulant that can increase your heart rate, give you energy, and decrease your inhibitions. Sure, that is part of it.


Alcohol has some initial stimulant effects, but it’s primarily a depressant. Does that mean I will be depressed? No, two separate things but some interrelations. It means that it slows down your body aka your central nervous system.  


How it affects you depends on your body chemistry, how much alcohol you ingest at once, and your alcohol tolerance.


Stimulants and depressants both affect your nervous system and brain function, although in opposite ways. Stimulants excite your nervous system. They may increase your blood pressure and heart rate.

Depressants slow you down by decreasing your heart rate and blood pressure. They can help you feel relaxation. Too much and you are sedated. Again, moderation rules the day.


Alcohol is one of those examples.

 Stimulant then Depressant?

Initial doses of alcohol signal your brain to release dopamine (see: “happy hormone”) which can cause you to feel stimulated and energized

One important thing to note is that the effects of alcohol vary greatly by individual and are influenced by a number of factors, including your body chemistry, sex, weight, alcohol tolerance, and the dose of alcohol consumed.


Ever hear the phrase, the ‘devil is in the details’. The word “initial” and “dosage” make all the differences. Hence, why having a glass of wine can have a stimulant effect is why keeping it to a glass or two over a few hours brings about the “correct chemistry” for an enjoyable evening where you are more creative, calmer, and energized.


The same study conducted on rats with regards to resveratrol, a compound in the skin of red grapes, helping you to relax could also help fight depression and reduce inflammation in the brain. The rats that were given resveratrol were less depressed and showed less inflammation than those that were not given any. But again, dosage was key!


You can take these wines away and sip in a sophisticated fashion for the legal and beneficial effects of alcohol. Imagine how you would drink at a French chateau amongst sophisticated master sommeliers, oenologists and winemakers? Perhaps, this is why the European model of drinking has led to a lower incidence of alcoholism compared to the “American sports style drinking”.

Food for thought.

Naturally, combining your sophisticated sipping with natural and biodynamic wines will lead to the euphoric and complimentary effects of wine. Avoid the stuffy and lethargy and replace it with energized and enlightened sophisticated sipping.

Until next time and always feel free to drop a comment about how you have mastered your balance.

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